Previously we discussed the powerful impact that just being a little more logical about stress at work could have. We then looked at the law of attraction and at how this makes you far more successful over time as people look at you as the person who is calm and in control.
But why is this? Why is it that most people aren’t better able to control their emotions and stay calm? Why is ‘panic’ our default response?
The answer is that our emotions have evolved in a much more dangerous time than we live in today. We are naturally risk averse because that is the attitude that would have given us the best chance of survival out in the African Savannah.
Let’s say you see an animal on the horizon and you don’t know if it’s a cat or a lion. In the wild, it really wouldn’t make sense to treat the unknown as a cat. Rather, it makes much more sense to assume the worst and to run.
But today that’s just not the case. Today, the ‘worst case scenario’ is really not that bad and is certainly not severe enough to put you in physical risk. The worst case scenario is your boss shouting at you, or a short period of financial hardship.
Risk aversion then is what gives you your advantage once you can get over it and it’s what will help you to seem the calmest and to make the ‘brave’ decisions. At the same time, it can be very beneficial to apply a little cognitive restructuring in order to change the way you perceive risks and challenges more generally. Think of these as opportunities to learn and to grow, to become stronger, and to give life some interest and excitement. When you look at them like this, you’ll be able to thrive rather than collapse under pressure.
Very often, it’s taking risks to ask someone out, invest in money, quit your job and start your own business, propose to your partner… all these things that give life meaning and color. And even if they go wrong, at least you tried.
And if you don’t learn to perceive challenges this way? Then the stress will never go away. There’s always an underlying sense of stress because that’s human nature.
The hedonic treadmill is a state of perpetual discomfort that we all tend to fall back to, even when times are good. It’s what is believed to keep us working and trying but an unfortunate side effect is that we are never quite content and never able to really try anything bold and brave. The REAL risk is that we stay frozen by fear, or that we stayed weighed down by all the admin of everyday life. The real danger is that you stay doing the same job that you don’t enjoy every single day and that you never experience the contentment, the challenge or the beauty that life has to offer. That’s what you should be stressed about and you should use that to push you towards your goals – even when life is hard and life is stressful. As the old expression goes: it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. There’s never a good time. So just bite the bullet and go for it!
Next week we'll talk about going after what you want.